21 May 2019

Sudan: Negotiations Resume

Sunday's talks followed the killing of six protesters in a shootout last week.

After 72 hours of suspension, the Transitional Military Council, TMC in Sudan on May 19, 2019 resumed talks with leaders of the civil society (the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, DFCF) on forming a transitional sovereign council, agency reports said. The military last week blamed demonstrators for erecting roadblocks throughout the capital city, Khartoum.

Sources said the talks resumed after the barricades were removed. The police have also taken over security of protesters camped in front of military headquarters in Khartoum after militiamen loyal to the junta shot and killed six protesters last week. At a late night news conference after seven hours of talks, Military Council Spokesman, General Shamseddine Kabashi, said the two sides discussed the terms of a three-year transition period. He said he hoped a final agreement could be reached later on May 20, 2019.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on May 20, 2019 deposited 250 million US dollars (146.9 billion FCFA) in Sudan's Central Bank as part of a support package for the country in the midst of an economic and political crisis, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, reported. The gift, plus a similar recent gesture from the United Arab Emirates, will help alleviate Sudan's economic problems. The donation comes at a time Sudanese have gotten used to spending hours in sweltering heat for fuel and to long queues outside banks where withdrawals are often limited to a maximum of 40 US dollars (23,500).

Countrywide protests were triggered on December 19, 2019 by sharp rises in the cost of food and fuel, resulting in the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir on April 11, 2019. Sudan was always going to face economic challenges after 2011 when South Sudan seceded, taking with it most of the oil wealth.

Street protests and a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry have continued since the army ousted and arrested former President Omar al-Bashir last month. Demonstrators have been calling for a rapid transition to civilian rule, and demanding justice for dozens of people killed during protests triggered by the economic crisis.

The TMC and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces have so far agreed on a three-year transition before elections, but have been deadlocked over whether civilians or the military would control the sovereign council that would hold ultimate power. The Sudanese Professionals Association, SPA, which spearheaded protests against Bashir and heads the DFCF.

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